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Dream: Alan Turing's Robot Bug Patrol

October 22, 2018

One of Alan Turing’s lesser-known accomplishments was inventing a small 4-legged mechanical robot. He had a terrible phobia of insects and spiders, so he created the robot to patrol and scare them away. It was made of brass and had a built-in flashlight he could turn on or off. There was a switch that would either cause it to patrol in a circle or a straight line in a back-and-forth pattern. It was powered by a rechargable battery and had a small circular base at which it could dock to recharge. He never publicized it or tried to sell it.

An obscure Czech filmmaker Turing was acquainted with asked if he could use it for one of his projects in the late 40s, and it was largely forgotten until the director of Johnny Mnemonic used it for one scene in which Nicholas Cage’s character was on an acid trip imagining a stop-motion claymation prehistoric world being decimated by an army of the creatures.

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